Sports are one of the best ways to keep our kids active and healthy, but young people make nearly 250,000 emergency room visits each year with sport or recreation-related brain injuries. As a sports fan and a parent with two young daughters, President Obama believes we need to do more to protect the health and safety of our kids. On May 29, 2014, the President hosted the first-ever White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit to advance research on sports-related youth concussions and raise awareness of steps to prevent, identify and respond to concussions in young people.
The summit brought together key stakeholders to highlight new commitments, including private-public partnerships, to increase research that will expand our knowledge of concussions to provide parents, coaches, clinicians, and young athletes tools to better prevent, identify and respond to concussions.
Staying Active and Playing Safe
Each day, hundreds of thousands of young athletes head out to fields, ice rinks and gymnasiums to practice and compete in a wide variety of sports. There is no doubt that sports are a great way for kids and teens to stay healthy, as well as to learn important leadership and team-building skills. At the same time, parents are increasingly concerned about the role of concussions in sports. Concussions can have a serious effect on young, developing brains, and can cause short- and long-term problems affecting how a child thinks, acts, learns, and feels.
While most kids and teens with a concussion recover quickly and fully, some will have symptoms that last for days, or even weeks, and a more serious concussion can last longer.
Last fall, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council published a report that found that there are gaps in our concussions research knowledge and that there is a startling lack of data on concussions, especially in youth sports. The report also found that there is still a “culture of resistance” among athletes related to the self-reporting of concussions and the adherence to treatment plans once they experience a concussion.
Advancing the Ball
The President believes that we can and must do better. Raising awareness of and better protecting children and student athletes from concussions, and better identifying and treating them when they do occur, requires a team approach and we must work with the professional sports community, youth sports programs, parents, school administrators, researches, athletes, coaches, trainers, military service members and other stakeholders to make this effort successful. We all have a role to play in helping to prevent, identify and respond to concussions so that young people can remain active and healthy. And, we can all work together to ensure that when kids do experience concussion, they are covered thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which bans insurance companies from denying health coverage to kids and adults with pre-existing conditions, allows young adults to stay on their parents plans until their 26th birthday, and offers new, affordable health coverage options.
That is why the White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit is bringing together key stakeholders to highlight new commitments, including new public-private partnerships, to increase research that will expand our knowledge of concussions and to provide parents, coaches, clinicians, and young athletes tools to better prevent, identify and respond to concussions.
Many organizations are participating on the effort, including:
The NCAA and the Department of Defense are jointly launching a $30 million effort to fund the most comprehensive clinical study of concussion and head impact exposure ever conducted.
The NFL is committing $25 million over the next three years to support projects and partnerships aimed at promoting youth sports safety.
The National Institutes of Health is announcing the launch of a new longitudinal research effort to detect, characterize, and measure the chronic effects of repetitive concussions to inform clinical trials aimed at preventing or slowing disease progression in the future.